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What I've Been Doing Lately...Etched Bangles

One of the joys I've found with making bangles is the infinite variety of designs you can make. I use a lot of copper for bangles and up to fairly recently most of my designs have been made from round wire that I've hammered. It wasn't until I had a custom request for a "bark" texture bangle in sterling {think flattened shape with hammered line marks} that I made my first flat bangle.

Having a flat surface gives you more options for design so I decided to try some etched patterns on the flat style bangles.

I started with lengths of the round copper wire which I annealed to soften it then rolled it through the rolling mill until it was flat enough for what I wanted to do.

I then annealed the flattened wire and straightened it on a steel block before cutting it to size and filing the ends flat

The bangles ready for soldering.

After soldering the bangles, cleaning up and shaping them the next step was to apply the resist on the areas of the bangle I didn't want to etch. I used a Sharpie and covered the inside of the bangles and then around the edges.

I'd never etched anything with a solder join before so I made sure the solder join on the bangles was covered with the Sharpie too. I didn't take any photos of the "design" part but I basically drew lines in different thicknesses on the front of the bangles with the Sharpie.

 I also tried another way to etch the bangles by applying the resist before the bangle was soldered. Having the metal flat worked better for the stamped designs as it was impossible to stamp the formed bangles without the ink smudging and it looking a bit of a mess - so I did it on the flat piece of metal and soldered the bangle afterwards. The only drawback with doing it that way is you remove some of the etched design when you're cleaning up the solder join.

I forgot to photograph the etching bit {sorry!} but I etched the copper for about 30 minutes. The time it takes to etch depends on how fresh your ferric chloride is and how deep you like to etch.

Cleaning off the Sharpie marks after etching.

The cleaned up bangle.

I then oxidized the bangles and cleaned them up with wire wool. I also tried using vinyl stickers as the resist on some of the bangles. I liked the subtle effect of their patterns. The zigzag {2nd left} is my favourite.

Overall I like the "stripe" design best. It was fairly time consuming to do but I love it's rustic charm. 

I think I could achieve a similar look without etching and doing lots of tedious colouring in with Sharpie pens. The rolling mill and some thin gauge wire beckons......

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  1. I love all the textures you created! The step by step photos are really cool to see.

  2. Beautiful! I work with silver and have been wanting to play with copper...I think you've inspired me to go for it!

    1. Thanks Judy! Copper's great to work with and much cheaper than silver :D

  3. I have been wanting to make etched bracelet and pendants too, bought all the supplies, but never tried.

    1. Have a go Divya, you'll love how easy it is to do and the results!

  4. A question: How did you suspend the bracelets in the etching solution?

    1. I used a shallow dish for the etching solution and just let the bangles sit on the bottom. I swished the solution about a few times and turned the bangles over a couple of times.

  5. Tracy, I've been struggling with soldering copper for rings and bangles. I bought copper solder, but it is so brittle, it sometimes breaks under the hammer. What kind of solder do you use for these gorgeous copper bangles??

    1. Hi Jane, thanks for your comment!
      I use normal silver solder then file and sand the solder join so it becomes a thin silver line that's not really that noticeable. I have tried copper solder but I found it extremely hard to cut. I like to clean up my solder joins as much as possible but found the copper colour in copper solder wears off when you sand it leaving a gray colour so I stuck to using silver solder :D


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